The fifth Innovation Lab

The fifth Innovation Lab for United Utilities delivered in partnership with innovation specialist L Marks is underway with six suppliers testing and trialling their solutions.  

This year’s Lab saw a record number of companies from across the world submit their ideas for the categories of Better Rivers, Dynamic Network Management, Low Carbon Construction, Water Efficiency, and Wildcard. We had 136 ideas submitted, after a scoring review by our subject matter experts from across the business, 20 were selected to pitch their solutions to key UU stakeholders.  

Our 14-week innovation programme provides successful applicants with the opportunity to test their solutions in a live environment, while gaining access to and building relationships with senior United Utilities executives, with the potential to lead to longer-term commercial partnerships.

The finalists for Lab 5 recently presented their outputs from the past 14 weeks at a Demo Day. Take a look at the highlights.

Meet the teams joining this years lab

Atmos International

Since 1995 we have been addressing the challenges faced by the oil, gas and chemical industries, with our technology being successfully applied to over 1,500 pipeline networks across more than 60 countries. As the world’s leading leak detection provider, we are best placed to help you ensure any leak is detected reliably and located accurately.

Maid Labs Technology

Maid Labs Technologies provides innovative high quality flow meter and diagnostic products, which focus on saving time, energy, and money. Maid Labs designs and makes high accuracy volumetric flow meter which allows real-time diagnostics and are used to increase the efficiency of wastewater pump stations.

Graphene Green Concrete

Graphene Green Concrete (GGC) is a sustainable concrete material developed by Dr Robert Ataria and his supervisors Prof Yong Wang and Dr Meini Su from The University of Manchester.


Bluemethane is developing technology to capture methane from water, as a new source of power and revenue. This will permanently remove methane from water, reduce global warming and support the energy transition by unlocking a new source of biomethane.

Save Water Save Money

Save Water Save Money is the UK market leader in water efficiency, continuously innovating new hardware products and digital solutions to help Water Utilities and corporate organisations meet the combined challenges of climate change, population growth and reporting on net zero carbon ambitions.

Aqua Robur Technologies

Aqua Robur Technologies provides complete IoT monitoring solutions for water distribution and sewer networks, including proprietary hardware, software & services. One of several innovations is an energy harvester, utilizing the water flow as the only energy source.


  • Sponsor: Neil Glover (Better Rivers Programme Director)

    ‘Better Rivers’ applies to all water bodies UU are accountable for with a focus on improving UK freshwater quality. 

    The UK’s freshwater ecosystems face increasing pressures from pollutants such as chemicals, microplastics and pharmaceuticals. It is paramount to United Utilities to ensure the quality of the rivers and water bodies they are accountable for pass regulations, whilst also actively improving their overall health. This category aims to use innovation and cutting-edge environmental science to protect and treat rivers in an environmentally friendly, sustainable, and scalable way.   

    United Utilities are also determined to tackle the pressing issue of sewage spills which occur after heavy rainfall, when the wastewater pipes are overloaded and overwhelm the network. As such, we are also looking for innovative ways to understand the extent of the spills, their volume and content, and solutions to mitigate and control them. 

  • Sponsor: Jane Simpson (Capital Delivery, Engineering & Commercial Director)

    At United Utilities, we are set to deliver the biggest large-scale construction programme in our history, which goes hand in hand with our commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

    Overall, construction produces high greenhouse gas emissions from various sources, including processing of raw materials, transportation to site, on-site construction of assets and the off-site disposal of construction waste. Therefore, this category aims to drive our commitment to sustainability, specifically to enable carbon reduction on our capital programme and within our supply chain.

    We are looking for advanced ways to more accurately calculate carbon emissions associated with our construction projects, utilise low carbon, sustainable materials and solutions and create ‘greener’ construction sites.

  • Sponsors: Emma McCabe (Water Efficiency Manager)

    Globally we face increasing challenges with freshwater availability. There is a growing demand for water-saving technologies to combat these challenges by harnessing water reuse, recycling, intelligent irrigation, and conservation in homes and businesses. Seemingly small changes to the everyday use of water can significantly impact the pressure on our freshwater supply.

    This category aims to discover new technologies, solutions and initiatives that will enable UU to facilitate the reduction of water consumption both domestically and commercially with both domestic and business customers in the North West. UU are looking to reframe its relationship with its customers by prioritising ways to improve the service they provide, providing water efficiency advice, and exploring water-saving technologies.

    1. Technology that can be used in homes or businesses which reduces water usage but doesn’t rely on customers changing their behaviour
    1. Raising awareness of water as a scarce resource which ultimately results in customers changing their behaviour – this might be through customer visualisation / better use of data / gamification
  • Sponsors: Sam Sloan (Network Business Manager)

    A key ambition of United Utilities’ Clean Water and Wastewater teams is to digitally enable our network to be the most proactively managed across the industry. To this end, we have implemented a pioneering ‘Dynamic Network Management’ (DNM) initiative across the Wastewater Network. By installing sensors in ‘hot spot’ areas of the network and applying artificial intelligence to spot deviations from ‘normal’ flow signatures, we have been able to identify and resolve key causes of flooding, such as blockages, before customers are even aware of the problem.

    We want to expand on the success of DNM by improving our asset condition monitoring capabilities, and ultimately use the data to control assets via remote communication. An ageing network poses a risk to the resilience of the system and we are therefore interested in solutions that monitor asset condition, predict potential failures and apply collated data to automate decisions that prevent asset failure.

    We are looking for an integrated solution that can operate in both a Clean Water and Wastewater environments so solutions should ideally be able to operate in pressurised and gravity pipes and Ex-rated environments.

  • Sponsor: Kieran Brocklebank (Head of Innovation)

    Innovation is one of our core values, we’ve achieved a lot of innovation success. With the bar being raised higher, a greater strategic approach is required to ensure that innovation efforts and resources focus on the highest priorities, both today and in the future. Although we have set out 4 focussed high priority themes, we would like to hear about any radical idea that you might have. UU are open to learning and to be surprised by what new technologies and different approaches can do for them and their customers. This category is truly open. UU would like to see innovations that can help them be better at all aspects of their responsibilities: a better service provider to our customers, a better employer and a better stakeholder in the communities we operate in. 

    Surprise us with ideas that you think could make a difference. 

Our Previous Innovation Lab

Hear from the participants of the previous Innovation Lab and their experiences with with us

Our Previous Innovation Lab

Innovation Lab timeline